Onboarding is the process of integrating a new employee into an organization through education, internal networking, and hands-on activities.
What’s the purpose of onboarding?
The purpose of employee onboarding is to introduce a new employee to every aspect of their new role and company over a period of time. A successful onboarding program will:
Educate the new hire on the company’s mission, values, and history
Introduce the new hire to their immediate and extended team members to build their internal network and experience the company culture
Familiarize the new hire with the processes, expectations, tools, and tasks related to their role
Provide a positive employee experience
Onboarding vs. orientation
Orientation is just one step in the employee onboarding experience.
Orientation sessions are typically held on the employee’s first day of work and are led by a People Ops or HR manager. These sessions can last anywhere from 30 minutes to an entire day. Depending on the company, there may be multiple new hires present during the session. During the session, new hires are given basic information on the company and provided with documents to review and complete, such as employee handbooks, company policies, and new hire paperwork.
After the orientation is over, the employee onboarding process continues.
Why is employee onboarding important?
New employees get their first impression of your organization during employee onboarding. When done poorly, you could lose your new top talent. In fact, 20% of employee turnover occurs within the first 45 days of a new job.
Done right, employee onboarding can set the pace for strong employee engagement, reduced employee turnover rates, increased employee retention rates, and long-term job satisfaction.
What steps are involved in employee onboarding?
Every organization’s onboarding process is unique—it should even differ from employee to employee. If you’re building an onboarding process from the ground up, here are the steps you should include:
Preboarding occurs after the new hire has accepted their offer letter, but before their start date. Some companies combine preboarding tasks with employee orientation. The benefit of conducting preboarding beforehand is that you keep the new hire engaged with the company and excited about their new organization before they even begin.
Preboarding tasks can include:
A tour of the office (if you work in person)
A casual meet-and-greet with their new team (a virtual coffee hour or an in-person lunch)
Sending them company information such as the employee handbook, culture manual, benefits information, and org chart
Sending them a welcome pack with branded company swag like stationery, a t-shirt or sweater, a stainless steel water bottle, or a coffee mug
2. Employee orientation
Employee orientation typically occurs on day one of employment. It’s a formal event where an HR professional leads the new hire (or new hires, if orientation is completed in groups) through various materials and procedures.
Typically, the onboarding lead will review the company history and mission with the new hires, as well as mandatory policies they need to review and training they need to complete. During this time, new hires will also complete the necessary new employee paperwork and administrative procedures such as providing payroll information and setting up various accounts and profiles.
3. Team integration
Once the new hire is officially set up at the company, you’ll want to integrate them into their new team by facilitating colleague introductions and managing their training. In the first week, the new hire should meet their immediate coworkers via informal 15 to 30-minute coffee chats. After that, they can move on to meeting their extended team members.
In the first two weeks, allocate time for the new hire to read through company materials, complete mandatory training, review their team’s recent work and workflow, and familiarize themselves with all the apps, tools, and programs they’ll use.
Once they’re settled in and ready to start working, assign them a partner from their immediate team. This colleague will act as a knowledgable guide and mentor while they complete their first few tasks or projects.
4. Ongoing support and development
Managers should check in with the new hire via weekly one-on-one meetings for the first month of their employment. Schedule monthly progress meetings to reflect on the previous month and to set goals for the next few weeks. Over the first three months, steadily give the employee more autonomy as their workload ramps up.
Eventually, the new hire will fully integrate into the team and need little oversight. However, weekly or bi-weekly check-in meetings are recommended to discuss their career growth and maintain a strong manager-employee connection.
When does onboarding end?
Onboarding ends when an employee is fully integrated into the company and comfortable in their role. They are settled into the processes, familiar with their team members, and can complete their tasks with minimal oversight.
Employee onboarding best practices
Tailor the timeline: The employee onboarding processes can span their first week or their first year, depending on the complexity of the role and company. However, most onboarding processes take 90 days to complete
Involve multiple team members: While HR professionals will manage the new employee onboarding, other participants include the new employee’s manager, immediate team members, a mentor/buddy, extended team members, and IT/tech support (as needed)
Personalize the experience: Effective onboarding should cover the standard topics (company policies, processes, responsibilities, communication methods, etc.) while also being personalized to the individual employee. You can personalize an onboarding experience by making time for one-on-one meetings between the new hires and their colleagues, setting goals with them, and being available to walk them through their benefits package (especially if it’s unique to their position or location)
Use employee onboarding software: Make onboarding simple and seamless for new hires and your HR team by using employee onboarding software that features digitized paperwork, e-signing, and automated processes
Want to make every new employee feel welcome to the team? Use one of our 20+ welcome message templates. They’re completely customizable and range from formal to informal and everything in between.